Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration

The School of Public Affairs and Administration at Western Michigan University offers Michigan's only doctoral education program specifically in public administration. This program has been graduating students for nearly three decades.

The doctoral program is designed for those who have experience in a supervisory or administrative position in federal, state, or local government or a nonprofit agency and those wishing to teach public administration in a college or university setting.

WE APPRECIATE YOUR INTEREST IN OUR DOCTORAL PROGRAM. THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND ADMINISTRATION OFFERS A RANGE OF UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE DEGREES INCLUDING THE MICHIGAN’S ONLY PHD IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION, WHICH WE’VE BEEN PROVIDING SINCE 1979. CURRENTLY, THE SCHOOL IS EXPANDING UNDERGRADUATE OFFERINGS AND RESTRUCTURING GRADUATE PROGRAMS. IN ORDER TO ALLOW A MORE THOROUGH REVIEW AND RESTRUCTURING OF OUR DOCTORAL EDUCATION GROUNDED IN THE INTERDISCIPLINARY NATURE OF THE FIELD, THE SPAA FACULTY HAS DECIDED OUR NEXT INCOMING GROUP FOR THE PHD PROGRAM TO BE FOR FALL 2021. THAT MEANS WE HAVE DECIDED TO SKIP TWO ADMISSIONS CYCLES, REVISE THE DOCTORAL CURRICULUM, AND THEN GET GOING AGAIN WITH A FULL SLATE OF PROGRAMS. WE ARE AWARE THAT TIMING MAY NOT BE GOOD FOR EVERY POTENTIAL APPLICANT, BUT WE HOPE THIS INFORMATION HELPS YOU MAKE THE BEST EDUCATIONAL DECISIONS GIVEN YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION. OUR ADVICE IS TO APPLY IN LATE 2020 OR EARLY 2021.

Objective

The mission of the Ph.D. in public administration is to:

  • Give students a deep and extensive knowledge of the history, theory, and future of the field.
  • Encourage broad intellectual inquiry with a scholarly perspective.
  • Prepare students for careers in teaching, research, administration, and consulting.
  • Provide decision makers, researchers, and future professors with a more sophisticated understanding of the governing process.

The curriculum incorporates a diversity of viewpoints, gathered from classical and contemporary readings in the discipline, examination of the contributions of its seminal thinkers, analysis of the institutions and processes of governance, exploration of emerging theories and trends, and an investigation of the challenges of leadership and public management in a democracy. Public administration is multidisciplinary and so during the coursework phase each student will be able to develop substantive and/or methodological knowledge in one or more of the many related disciplines, including sociology, economics, educational leadership, interdisciplinary health sciences, political science, statistics, and communication.

Integral to the program is the development and refinement of the skills to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research, practice in statistical and quantitative analysis, and experience with applied skills of leadership and ethical decision-making.

Students should graduate with the ability to perform independent research on theoretical public administration concerns and substantive issues, to analyze a wider range of alternative policies, and to weigh competing choices in the decision-making process.

A variety of pedagogical methods will be used to challenge the thinking and facilitate the continued professional development of mid-career students.

Advising

You are expected to meet with your advisor on a regular basis.

Questions

Please contact us with questions concerning the admissions process for the Ph.D. in public administration program. Complete the Information and Application Request Form to receive more information on the program.